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Avalanche risk climbs to extreme on some B.C. mountains as storm hits province

Last Updated Jan 3, 2020 at 12:09 pm MDT

A search and rescue helicopter heads to an avalanche site near Revelstoke, B.C. in a 2010 file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

VANCOUVER — The organization that monitors avalanche risk across much of British Columbia has issued an uncommon “extreme” warning for many slopes in the Sea-to-Sky region just north of Vancouver.

Avalanche Canada says in a statement that it “rarely sees” extreme avalanche danger and its website indicates large avalanches are “almost certain” on alpine and treeline sections of slopes in the region that includes Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.

The website says between 40 centimetres and a metre of new snow, coupled with strong wind and warming temperatures will “cause a natural avalanche cycle.”

The risk level is rated as high below the treeline, meaning very dangerous avalanche conditions exist and travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.

Those risks are expected to remain for the Sea-to-Sky mountains through Saturday and Avalanche Canada says high risk ratings were also in effect Friday for several mountain ranges from the northwest coast to the Alberta boundary.

Two 21-year-old Alaska men died Monday when they were hit by an avalanche while snowboarding with a friend in Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in the far northwestern corner of B.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2020

The Canadian Press